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Sunday, April 19, 2015

So I don't cry when I bear my testimony


You're sitting on a church pew that has been covered in a deep burgundy colored fabric as you eye the small child in front of you during the month's fast and testimony meeting.

You are touched by the speakers testimony. You can feel the Holy Ghost testifying to your heart that the words you are hearing are true, but as you sit there it feels like you and the baby might be the only two in the room who aren't crying during this testimony meeting because of the spirit in the room.

As fast as this thought enters into your mind the child starts to scream and their dad carries them out.

You begin to wonder why you don't cry when you feel the spirit.

A picture flashes in your mind of girls camp testimony meeting last summer where all the girls sat on logs around a campfire. One by one each girl would stand up and mutter what they knew to be true through tear-filled eyes and a chocked up throat. As it came to be your turn you stood up and rattled off that you know Joseph Smith was a true prophet, because you do. You also tell how you know that he really did translate the Book of Mormon and that you know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. You know this because you've read it and you've prayed about it. You share your testimony of the Savior and his Atonement. You've seen it work in your life. You share this testimony and as fast as you stood up, you sit down without a single tear falling from your face.

As the testimony meeting comes to a close you watch awkwardly as your young women leaders hug the girls that are still crying. They thank them for their beautiful testimonies and tell them how amazing they are as you sit and think "did my testimony not mean anything?"

This question, in addition to many others have run through my mind on several occasions during various testimony meetings, and church events through my life. These thoughts include, but are not limited to;

"Why don't I cry when bearing my testimony?"
"Am I really even feeling the spirit?"
"Should I pretend to cry so that I can fit in?"
"Why do my leaders seem to like the girls that cry more than those that don't?"
"I wonder if my leaders even believe that I do have a testimony because they've never seen me cry."
"I just want to be able to cry."
"What's wrong with me?"
"Now my leaders are crying..."
"I don't know what to do when people leak."

These examples are my personal experiences, and they may or may not be your personal experiences too.

Now I must insert a disclaimer in here: I'm in no-way stating that it's bad to cry when you bear your testimony. It's great and I honestly wish I was like those of you that do, but what I am saying is that it's okay if you don't.

There. I said it. It's okay if you don't cry when you bear your testimony.

President Howard W. Hunter said: "I get concerned when it appears that strong emotion or free-flowing tears are equated with the presence of the Spirit. Certainly the Spirit of the Lord can bring strong emotional feelings, including tears, but that outward manifestation ought not to be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself."

Say what?!

I have never been a cryer. Sure, I have had experiences when tears have been present, but for the most part I don't cry when bearing my testimony, and neither does my mom or my sister.

For a long time I was self-conscious about it. I sometimes wouldn't bear my testimony because I didn't want to be looked down upon for not crying. Oh how I was so wrong.

In the Book of Mormon we read about King Benjamin's sermon that he gave to his people where he bore testimony of his personal witness of the Savior. 

When he had just borne witness to the people, "The Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy ... because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come."

"filled with joy."

To me the phrase "filled with joy" doesn't put a picture in my mind of a bunch of people crying around a campfire. To me that is a group of people who have just had their lives changed. They have new-found knowledge and strengthened testimonies and they are excited about it. They are motivated for change. This is how I want my testimony to affect people. 

I was having a discussion about this topic with my mom and sister some time ago. My mom brought up a good point. Watch just one session of General Conference and you witness testimony after testimony of some of the Lord's most righteous servants. These are men that commune with God on a daily, and dare I say, minutely basis. These are men that have constant spiritual experiences and that have firm testimonies. Yet, for the majority of the time they don't spend their time at the pulpit crying.

If I could pick a favorite conference talk this would be it. Here is a powerful testimony of a man called of God. In fact, this is one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard, yet he didn't cry.





So my conclusion is this: If you are in a situation where you have the chance to bear your testimony then do it. If you get chocked up and feel tears swelling in your eyes then let them out. It is an amazing thing to be so passionate about something that it moves you to show emotion, but I also conclude this; that if by chance you stand up and begin to proclaim your testimony and tears don't begin to swell in your eyes; stand firm. You're testimony is no less than anybody else's. Your testimony can bring so many to know of the truth and you just might be the one that says something that somebody else needs to hear. Never again will I hold back my testimony because I don't feel that it is good enough. Never again will I hide the joy that the gospel brings to me. Because it is just that; joy. And I want to share it.




feel my sunlight



p.s. I can submit my mission papers in 31 days!!!







Wednesday, April 8, 2015

He will not let us fall



Dear blog land, oh how you are good to me.

My heart is just so full right now. I just got back from an amazing lemon-filled trip to Arizona last week, and with both Easter and General Conference last weekend as well as mission papers that I'm working on I just cant help but think of my Savior and smile at how good He has been to me.

Look how cute we are at the Grand Canyon!

Speaking of General Conference... didn't you just LOVE IT?! I did!

I don't think that I could write a blog post long enough or good enough to describe how I feel about General Conference and all of the thoughts, impressions, and answers to prayers that went through my mind while I was listening to these men that were called of God to guide us.

But I want to share just a piece of it.



I feel like I am hanging all the time, and I know the rest of the world is too. I often feel the gritty texture of the rocks in my life. There is a line in the song "Beyond Me" by TobyMac that says;


"That You gave me the stars, put them out of my reachCalled me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I've never been so aware of my need
You keep on making me see
It's way beyond me."


This is exactly what God has done with my life. He's offered me everything, things even greater than I could imagine, and then he's set them just out of my reach in a place that I couldn't possibly get to on my own. He's set up a ledge for me to hang on, but that I can't climb over by myself.

But the good part of this situation is that He is the other half of the equation needed for us to reach what we need.

Have you ever lifted up a small child so that they can reach something they want? You could easily just hand it to them, but instead you decide that it would be good for them to let them grab it. So you wait for them to ask for your help, and then you lift them.

This is what God is doing with us. He has "offered us the stars and put them just out of reach" But he has promised that he will lift us up if we follow him.

He has also promised us that  He would not let us fall.

And how can we when we have hands so strong bearing us up?

So if we have the hands that run the universe holding us up, what is there for us to do?

Helaman 5:12 says;

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty stormshall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

Whenever I am tempted with something. Be it a temptation of sin, or the desire to sleep through mission prep, or some other thing that I know I shouldn't or should be doing, the words run through my mind;

I LOVE GOD MORE THAN THAT.

This is a phrase that has changed my life. Because I know that God has given me everything. He sent His only Son to die for me. Christ already paid the entire price needed. But who am I to turn down that offer of exaltation? Who am I to turn down the hand that will not let me fall? Who am I to show God that I love sin more than him by giving in?

"I love God more than that" has kept me out of so many situations. 

Every week when we take the sacrament we promise to "Always have his spirit to be with us."

To me that means to always love Him more than anything else.

It means to make decisions that will be in harmony with his will for us. And I know that if we do

HE WILL NEVER LET US FALL




feel my sunlight


p.s. What was your favorite talk in Conference?